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The Morning Call: Historic rooms (and a private pub) to tour Saturday in Bethlehem

June 1st, 2018 |

Architectural and decorative diversity was the goal when Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites scouted properties for its 26th annual Rooms to View House and Garden Tour Saturday, June 2.

Mission accomplished: The nine properties on the self-guided tour range from post-colonial to modern and even industrial. You can see homes, gardens, patios, kitchens and more.

Perhaps the most unexpected (and coolest) discovery lies behind a pair of bright red doors at the rear of an elegant house on East Market Street — beneath a “Bagpiper’s Pub” sign.

When Bruce and Kim Campbell purchased the 1917 dwelling four years ago, a full renovation of kitchen and baths was required, and they restored and repaired leaded and stained glass and other original features. But a “rotted and termite infested” sun porch remained untouched for two years.

The kitchen at the home of Bruce and Kim Campbell in Bethlehem, part of the Rooms to View Houee Tour.
The kitchen at the home of Bruce and Kim Campbell in Bethlehem, part of the Rooms to View Houee Tour.

“We couldn’t decide what to do with it, but didn’t want another sitting room that would never be used,” Bruce says. “Then a cousin visiting from Scotland suggested turning it into a pub.”

So there it was. A back bar from Truman’s Pub in London, circa 1880—acquired from a dealer in Philly — was brought in and futher adorned with Russian pilasters, French sconces and a wood and English tile floor. The bar has 12 seats.

“There are even brass hooks for purses beneath the bar. It’s as authentic as can be,” says Bruce. A St. Andrew’s flag placed outside signals to neighbors that the Campbells’ personal pub is “open” for socializing.

You can also see the Campbells’ home, originally built for a senior executive at Bethlehem Steel, with its state-of-the-art kitchen, preserved hardwood floors, and a vestibule with stone wainscoting and decorative tile.

Also on East Market Street is a luxurious Victorian-era Italianate home, built in 1879 by Charles Dodson, featuring design elements such as tall and narrow arched doorways, double doors embellished with wrought iron and glass panels, floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows and a square-shaped copula.

Discover the kind of verdant retreat that can be created in an urban setting on nearby Church Street. This stately home, landscaped with hydrangeas and boxwood, features a side shade garden, a flagstone patio surrounded by hostas and hydrangeas, and a spacious lawn that incudes a vintage-style playhouse, a raised-bed kitchen garden and an espalier fruit tree.

Greystone Barn is the name of a house renovated form a stone bank barn on a north Bethlehem property deeded to Daniel Heller in 1844. It's a fine example of late Arts and Crafts cottage style.
Greystone Barn is the name of a house renovated form a stone bank barn on a north Bethlehem property deeded to Daniel Heller in 1844. It’s a fine example of late Arts and Crafts cottage style.

In West Bethlehem’s Old Rosemont neighborhood, a classic brick home built for a Bethlehem Steel executive in 1928 personifies traditional style and charm, with multiple custom and handcrafted features. The current owners searched for and acquired historical documents related to the dwelling, and several fascinating pieces of homeowner ephemera — including the original deed — will be on display during the tour.

Also in north Bethlehem, explore a non-traditional living space in a once-dilapidated sewing factory. The former industrial site was restyled into nine loft apartments with contemporary amenities. Tour the developer/owner’s penthouse, encompassing the entire top floor, which features sophisticated and dramatic décor.

Heading north on Center Street, Graystone Barn showcases a different approach to repurposing. The historic three-bay, gray limestone bank barn was transformed into an Arts and Craft “barn cottage” in 1938, a trend popularized in England by architect Harold Falkner. There’s a soaring 35-foot ceiling in the entry and main room, with a wrap-around walkway lining the upper level living spaces. Distinctive architectural features include wide plank floors, bird-welcoming dovecote windows, and an old copper weathervane of a horse running into the wind. Elaborate landscaping was part of the original transformation, and 80-year old plantings, along with a carp pond and waterfall, still grace the property.

Northward, in a surprisingly rural setting within the city limits, is a sleek modern home — custom built by the current owners in 1989 — with a colorful interior with creek and countryside views. Double decks and a stone patio ensconced in lush landscaping make the most of bucolic living.

The sole destination in south Bethlehem is a landmark structure, The Flatiron Building, which was constructed in 1910 and renovated into a “green,” LEED-certified mixed-use structure in 2007 by the Stone House Group, with offices on the top floor and fabulous cityscape views. A slide presentation in a community room will illustrate the building’s history, and a second-floor apartment is also open for touring.

The sole destination in Center Valley represents a veritable journey through time to a gentleman’s farm, with a history traced to a land conveyance by William Penn in 1682. A house and barn built by German immigrants in 1806 remained in that family for four generations, though additional barns were added and the house tastefully expanded in recent decades. Original details such as interior stone walls and plank floors provide an appropriate environment for the current owner’s family heirlooms and antiques.

One spot is left when the official tour is done — the garden of the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts. The lushly planted space, filled with vibrant blooms and sustainable plantings, was designed for outdoor relaxation by Scott Rothenberger’s Place. Stop by for a wine and cheese reception provided by Culinary Experience Catering 3:30-5 p.m.

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